Tag Archives: World Health Organization

Are Psychiatric Medications Making Us Sicker?

I first took a close look at treatments for mental illness 15 years ago while researching an article for Scientific American. At the time, sales of a new class of antidepressants, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRI’s, were booming. The first SSRI, Prozac, had quickly become the most widely prescribed drug in the world. Many psychiatrists, notably Peter D. Kramer, author of the best seller Listening to Prozac, touted SSRI’s as a revolutionary advance in the treatment of mental illness. Prozac, Kramer said in a phrase that I hope now haunts him, could make patients “better than well.”

Clinical trials told a different story. SSRI’s are no more effective than two older classes of antidepressants, tricyclics and monoamine oxidase inhibitors. What was even more surprising to me—given the rave reviews Prozac had received from Kramer and others—was that antidepressants as a whole were not more effective than so-called talking cures, whether cognitive behavioral therapy or even old-fashioned Freudian psychoanalysis. According to some investigators, treatments for depression and other common ailments work—if they do work—by harnessing the placebo effect, the tendency of a patient’s expectation of improvement to become self-fulfilling. I titled my article “Why Freud Isn’t Dead.” Far from defending psychoanalysis, my point was that psychiatry has made disturbingly little progress since the heyday of Freudian theory.

Depression? Don’t believe it —Big Pharma has gained an ever greater hold over our mental & emotional lives

Over the last 40 years the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders – the bible of the psychiatric professions – has spawned more and more diagnostic categories, “inventing” disorders along the way and radically reducing the range of what can be construed as normal or sane. Meanwhile Big Pharma, feeding its appetite for profits and ours for drugs, has gained an ever greater hold over our mental and emotional lives, medicalising normality.

The Irish Times—All in our heads: Have we taken psychiatry too far?

With drafts of the latest edition of the world’s leading psychiatry manual emerging, critics question the growing medicalisation of life’s problems. Over the past three decades, unhappiness has been redefined as depression, shyness has been reclassified as social anxiety disorder – even trivial complaints such as fussy eating are now being viewed through a psychiatric prism. Some of this is due to a single book, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual , which critics claim is contributing to the ever-expanding empire of mental health. The next official edition of the DSM will be published in May 2013, but draft versions are currently doing the rounds.

Antidepressants Linked to Blindness in Older Adults

Antidepressant use could be linked to blindness in older adults, a recent study suggests. Drugs that treat depression known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs, caused an increased risk of developing cataracts in patients aged 65 or older, according to a study published in the journal Ophthalmology in June.